Fill up on veggies. Lay off the desserts. Such sensible advice is often repeated over the holidays. But let’s be realistic. How likely are you to pile your 14-inch plate with roasted Brussels sprouts and salad and ignore the pie?
As a registered dietitian with 30 years of experience under my belt, I’ve learned that one day doesn’t make or break a healthy diet. That said, here are some ways you can pump up the nutrition, not be overstuffed and still enjoy dinner with family and friends.
- If you have several hours before folks sit down to a big dinner, put out cut fruits and veggies to nibble on. A nonfat ranch or yogurt dip keeps kids busy!
- Serve the food “buffet” style – versus family style with all the platters and bowls on the table. Otherwise the visual stimulation of the food keeps everyone eating as long as they sit at the table.
- Eliminate ordinary, non-holiday foods such as bread or rolls that you can have any time of year.
Pump Up Nutrition
Potatoes: Use yellow gold or sweet potatoes instead of white. They’re loaded with Vitamin A! Add nonfat dry milk to mashed for extra calcium, protein and body.
Stuffing: Instead of sausage, substitute other flavorful items that pack in more nutrients and less fat or calories. I love cranberries, dried cherries, mushrooms and walnuts in with the usual celery and onions.
Gravy: Make your own instead of using premade ones that come in a jar or can. They are generally much higher in salt and fat. Invest in a gravy separator, which lets the fat rise to the top while you pour from the bottom.
Pie: Remember that pumpkin is the healthiest. Canned pumpkin has just as much nutrition as fresh. Pecan is yummy and provides healthy fat but with that fat comes about double the calories of pumpkin. A smaller slice if this is your favorite!
Althea Zanecosky is a Philadelphia registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.